I've had good luck with Homey's birch and oak, some of it in the
mid-$40s/sheet. No mdf encountered. I just cut it with a sharp blade in
a a carefully-guided saw, and ripped real-wood trim strips for the
edges on the table saw. Sugar maple, in fact.
Scrape, seal, stain, couple coats urethane- very handsome indeed.
You'll likely find better material for less at some real lumber yards.